GuitarGuitar and Guitarist Magazine recently spent some time with Suhr Guitars and interviewed cofounder John Suhr. John Suhr used to work with Rudy Pensa of Rudy’s Guitars in New York and also with Fender in their custom shop. He left Fender and started his own guitar manufacturing company. In the interview, he briefly discusses the legal battle he and other manufacturers recently had with Fender (who ended up losing the battle):
But funnily enough we started off doing [the Standard] shape as our only shape here at Suhr — it was the one I knew the most. As time went on people started asking about what became the Classic and I went to Fender and asked their permission. I said do you have an issue? I was still friends with them and still did some work for them. They said, no we don’t have an issue [with the body shape], just stay away from the headstock. So the way I look at it is that Fender told me it was okay. Unfortunately the people that told me it was okay are either retired or have passed on so now I’m dealing with a whole new set of rules. There’s a lot of people fighting it. I think Gibson is involved, Peavey is involved and a lot of other companies. The main thing is that if I had known from the beginning that it wasn’t okay I probably would have come up with something more original or out there. But then we started doing the Classics — I mean it’s pretty 50:50 in terms of sales with the Classics and the Standard so I would lose 50 percent of my market if I didn’t run the Classic.
The bottom line is that I’ve never seen an original guitar that has not fallen on its face. Steinberger, Parker… they’ve all been bought and sold a few times.
Suhr also discusses aspects of their manufacturing process and different aspects of guitar making.